Joel Ancelowitz, a telemarketer who sold employment services for an Orlando, Florida- based firm that had been targeted in a Federal Trade Commission crackdown on fraudulent job search services in June, has agreed to stay out of the telemarketing and employment services business altogether in the future. The FTC said Ancelowitz, who also is known as Jim Manti, agreed to the ban as part of a settlement of the charges against him. Ancelowitz was a telemarketer for Linc II, Inc. FTC charges remain pending against the firm and one other individual defendant.
The Linc II case was one of seven the FTC filed as part of Project Career Sweep to shut down fraudulent employment service scams that charge consumers up-front fees ranging from $35 to hundreds of dollars, but supply very little of value, if anything, in return. The FTC said these firms place ads in the classified sections of newspapers nationwide touting positions such as "financial analyst," "engineering" and "government positions." When consumers call the numbers in the ads, telemarketers hype themselves as job placement services with special access to specific job openings. But few, if any, consumers ever receive the type of job placement assistance promised, and the vast majority of consumers never see their money again. Some red flags, the FTC said, are when a firm charges an up-front fee and guarantees consumers a job, and when it requires credit or bank account information while promising that no immediate charges or debits will occur.
In documents filed with the court in the Linc II case, the FTC said the defendants claimed they had access to a nationwide "hidden" job market and that they could obtain multiple job interviews in clients’ chosen fields and geographical areas. According to the FTC, none of the 40 Linc II clients surveyed by the FTC received even a single interview, let alone a job, as a result of the defendants’ services. Further, the FTC claimed that the defendants routinely charged $389 for their services, but consumers who requested refunds received less than $20.
The FTC settlement, which requires court approval to become binding on Ancelowitz, would bar him from engaging in telemarketing in any form, assisting others engaged in tele marketing, engaging in the activities of a job placement agency, or assisting others in such activities. Additional bans on specific misrepresentations would make it easier for the FTC to seek contempt of court penalties should Ancelowitz ignore the business bans. These provisions, which reflect the challenged conduct in the case, would bar Ancelowitz from falsely representing:
- that consumers will be contacted by potential employers or receive job offers;
- the number or percentage of his customers who get jobs;
- the number or location of job openings he can fill;
- the extent to which fees paid by consumers will be refunded; or
- any other fact material to a consumer’s decision to purchase employment services or, in connection with a telemarketing offer, to make a charitable contribution, enter a contest for a prize or award, or purchase any product or service.
The order also would require Ancelowitz to disclose in writing all specific, non- refundable fees before soliciting money from consumers for job placement services. Based on financial data supplied by Ancelowitz, the settlement would not require any monetary payment, but it would permit the FTC to seek to reopen the matter should he be found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
Finally, the order contains various reporting and record keeping provisions that would assist the FTC in monitoring the defendant’s compliance.
The Commission vote to approve the settlement for filing in court was 5-0. It was filed in U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, this morning. The FTC received significant assistance in this action from the Florida Attorney General’s Division of Economic Crimes and the Better Business Bureau of Central Florida.
NOTE: This consent judgement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the consent judgment, as well as the FTC complaint filed in June and other information about Project Career Sweep, are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases, related documents and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2161 or 202-326-2180
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(FTC File No. X960083)
(Civil Action No. 96-642-CIV-ORL-18)